Over the last three weeks, the Tech Review has looked at some writing Apps to help with spelling and grammar (Grammarly), plot structure (Plottr) and writing books (Reedsy Book Editor).

It’s all well writing books and having apps and technology improve our writing, but what about reading? What about audience members who might not be able to the see the printed words?

This week, we asked Tony McGovern to check out Speechify. This is what Tony has to tell us!

Speechify

Founded originally by Cliff Weitzman. Weitzman is a guy who loves to read. However he always struggled to read as he has dyslexia. Weitzman and his brother created Speechify to provide a better way of reading.

Speechify turns the text you were meant to read into audio to listen to. This is done using an AI-powered listening assistant.

Getting started

As an app, Speechify can be used on your mobile or laptop and is available on both iOS and Android. It can be an app you download or a plug-in for browsers. Just install the app, select what you want to read and then listen.

You can use Speechify in multiple languages. It also has the ability to control the speed of speech. You can listen quicker to make the most of your time or slow it down to make sure you don’t miss any of the details, you’re covered. There’s also the option of choosing from several HD premium voices. Maybe there is a voice than can make listening more to your liking or at least less annoying.

What can Speechify be used for?

It takes the the text of digital books and/or documents and converts text to audio. For busy people, Speechify allows you to make the most of your time and you can listening to books whilst driving, cooking (if you’re like me, listening to the cooking instructions as you cook) or during any other activity. Speechify is ideal for multi-tasking.

Speechify is a great way to ‘read’ all those books that end up on your must-read list. Professionals can make the most of travelling between work to catch up on work documents or meeting minutes as they travel. Students can listen to books they were meant to read on their way to school.

People with dyslexia, poor eyesight or other learning difficulties can find Speechify a great benefit for helping them read. Speechify not only reads in 50+ languages, it can be used to translate documents into other languages too.

Privacy Issues

Speechify will collect your personal data. This data is used for identification purposes and for usage of products. Information such as your operating system version, device type and system performance are used also. Data is used for targeted ads and third-parties such as Facebook and Google.

All personal data is securely stored in servers in the US. Any payments you make are encrypted with SSL technology. Speechify does not store any payment information which is stored with the payment processor.

You can reach out to Speechify, by their app or email, to gain access to your personal data or ask them to delete any data they may retain.

Conclusion

Speechify is an extremely usefully app which can benefit everybody. It has multiple uses and can be a real timesaver. If your are someone who struggles with reading, for any reason, Speechify can make reading so much easier, allowing you to focus on the content and not the frustration of reading.

Speechify gives you a free 7 day trial. After which, it’s a pay monthly subscription ($7.99) or yearly depending on your budget.

My experience using Speechify

Installation for Speechify was easy and quick as a Chrome extension. You can also have Speechify as an app on your phone as well. To get started, you make some choices:

  • what you use Speechify for and
  • what your goals are

These help give you gain the best experience. The choices are all displayed using icons and some text. So anyone with reading difficulties should not struggle.

Choices

One choice: what voice do you want to listen to. There are several to choose from and with different accents as well. You can change the language which means documents in English can be listened to it in Italian, German, Spanish, etc. This makes Speechify a useful translator!

Once you load a webpage, click the extension and a widget for Speechify pops up. The widget is easy to use and you can change multiple settings here: speed of the voice to how the voice sounds. You also have the option of dark mode on this widget as well so you’re not staring at the harsh white screen while you are working for several hours.

Once I had all the setting tuned for me I began to use Speechify on several webpages. This worked very well. When you start Speechify, it begins talking right away. It also highlights the text as it talks for you to keep track as well as an auto-scroll feature. This makes sure you don’t get lost if you want to read and listen at the same time. So you can just sit back, relax and let Speechify work its magic.

Useful features

One of the more useful features of Speechify, which goes unnoticed, is that it works in the background. Start listening to any webpage or document you want, then minimise the page or start a new tab on your browser and Speechify keeps reading. Great for multitasking!

Also, you can upload PDF’s and listen to them. Currently, only text readable PDF’s can be uploaded. Nonetheless, they are working on making more documents available for use. 

I struggled to use Speechify while working in the office. It had the feel of someone talking to you over your shoulder and splitting your attention while you are trying to work (this might not apply to other users, this is my experience and how I work).

When it came to non-working hours, Speechify ruled the house telling me interesting stories and reading cooking instructions while I worked on messing up the simplest of dishes. Speechify was also great during my time driving, reading out articles and making my usual driving route back home a great deal less boring. I found using Speechify surprisingly enjoyable and easy to use.

Multitask

Speechify is great for multi-tasking. If you are a business person looking to read the latest news or work documents while you are on your way to work, out for a walk or you cannot look at your computer screen for another second but still have work to do, Speechify is for you.

If you are a student trying to make every second count, cramming in study time and all the information possible for those exams and the need to learn everything at once. Having Speechify on in the background while doing menial tasks or when you have some spare time could greatly increase the knowledge you possess.

Speechify is great for people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia. Bypassing the need to read and voicing all the text is a great help to anyone with dyslexia allowing them to focus on the information and not the struggle in trying to read the content.

Why not give Speechify a try?


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